Due to the restrictions associated with Covid-19, the Dutch Retail Petrol & Carwash Exhibition looked different this year: the tradeshow was held online. Thanks to the ProMedia team who facilitated an online setup, companies, producers and suppliers in the field of fuel, electric charging, washing and shop could share the latest trends and knowledge with each other.
Marcel Cauli, CEO of Extendas, was also present during this online event. He talked to Remco Nieuwenbroek of ProMedia in the broadcast of November 3rd.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR DIGITALISATION AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
During the broadcast Marcel talked about the opportunities that digitisation and smart solutions can offer for entrepreneurs. He explained how Extendas looks at trends in B2C as inspiration for petrol stations. Convenience is a well known concept in the B2C market; smart doorbells and thermostats and all kinds of other forms of automation are there to make your life easier. Making order placements and vehicle and customer recognition are variations on this trend for the petrol and car wash industry.
The shift from buying specific hardware to using existing devices is another example of how convenience is increasingly finding its way into the petrol industry. Tablets and apps are being used more and more, and are much easier to maintain, update or replace. These devices are often already known to the user and therefore work intuitively.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CUSTOMER
Apps are not only a useful tool for petrol station employees or owners, but also for customers. Marcel refers to the TANX app from Vissers Energy Group (developed by Extendas) which allows users of the app to always have their fuel card with them. In addition, an app creates more opportunities for communicating with your customer, compared to a physical fuel card.
The app can also be expanded with additional mobility services, such as charging or parking. Remco emphasizes that this is actually a broadening of services and offers new opportunities for upsell.
SMART SOLUTIONS STEP BY STEP
Remco states that it can sometimes be found complicated or difficult for entrepreneurs to use new techniques in solutions and wonders how Extendas is looking at this. Marcel explains, based on his insights, that the petrol industry is increasingly changing at the same pace as other industries. While it was a fairly traditional market in the past, there are already many technologies that are being applied and more and more entrepreneurs dare to go along with new developments. Often gradually and also because they encounter these new trends in their daily lives, especially young entrepreneurs. This lowers the threshold.
Nowadays, as an entrepreneur, you have to look at what is happening around you; we are all in the middle of a transition, says Marcel. The fuel station as we know it is really changing; from alternative fuels, electric charging to a hub where you can do more than just refuel (catering, washing). Many of these developments are introduced automatically or are based on changes happening in other areas of life. For example, the arrival of smart cars. Imagine these cars being identified automatically, based on a unique ID, when arriving at a fuel station. The smart POS in the shop of the fuel station then takes care of, for example, payment and promotions automatically. As an entrepreneur, you automatically go along with these developments because you want to facilitate them.
FROM OWNERSHIP TO SERVICE
During the broadcast, a viewer asked why Apple was chosen for the hardware. According to Marcel, this is because Apple’s products are simply very stable and safe and thus ensure continuity. With the iPad and iPhone you actually run very little risk of hacking. Updates are done automatically, no maintenance technician has to come by. The screen sizes of Apple products are also largely the same, this allows us to control the way users use the software. These advantages make Apple products a perfect match for software developers and entrepreneurs.
Marcel and Remco then also discussed the shift from ownership to service, a development that Remco is also curious about. Where in the past you bought software, for example a CD, you paid for the entire package and unlimited use Marcel indicates. Nowadays more and more people use a subscription, where you only pay a monthly fee for the services you need. When you no longer need it, you can cancel it. Extendas also provides many of its services based on this.
Remco asks Marcel about the dot on the horizon for shops and petrol, which opportunities lie further in the future. Marcel says that Extendas is currently developing a platform for ‘De Splinter’ in which aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) can be found. Marcel refers to Netflix to explain the way this works. Subscription holders from Netflix receive viewing suggestions based on viewing behaviour of people who have the same interests as themselves. We also apply this AI concept for ‘De Splinter’. Where as an entrepreneur you normally have to determine the stock of your shop products yourself, you will soon be advised about a product or price level, based on transaction data from others.
A lot of automation has been accelerated in the past year due to the measures surrounding Corona. Awareness among entrepreneurs about opportunities new technology can offer has only increased. Within Extendas we are ready to guide and help any entrepreneur who’s interested in this.